IEC asks MCIT to block candidates’ fake Facebook pages
Feature Stories - September 26, 2019

IEC asks MCIT to block candidates’ fake Facebook pages

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Thursday asked the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MCIT) to block fake Facebook pages of presidential candidates.

Facebook pages associated to Torsan, a presidential hopeful, have attracted special attention for its negative propagation against other runners.

According to a Pajhwok Afghan News report, tens of fake Facebook pages have been created in the name of presidential candidates and have been publishing negative and immoral propaganda against rival candidates.

د ولسمشرۍ نوماندانو په اړه جعلي فېسبوک پاڼو اندېښنې راولاړې کړې دي

Pajhwok’s findings show there are 53 fake or unverified Facebook pages using the names of 16 presidential candidates. Most of these fake pages or 12 are associated with incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. Noor Rahman Liwal is the only presidential candidate who has no fake Facebook account.

Election watchdogs and experts demand the authorities concerned take action against fake accounts because of their negative impact in the society on polls and public opinion.

Mohammad Rafi Rafiq Seddiqi, head of the IEC media committee, told Pajhwok Afghan News that there was no law in the country under which the runners of fake social media pages could be punished or such pages blocked, something he called a problem.

However, he said, “We sent a letter to MCIT after Pajhwok’ investigative report and we asked the ministry to block such fake pages, because it would turn into a bad culture in future elections.”

He also shared a copy of the letter with Pajhwok the commission had sent to Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA). The letter is released six days ago.

د ټاکنو کمېسیون: مخابراتو وزارت باید د نوماندانو جعلي فېسبوکپاڼې بندې کړي

However, Sher Shah Nawabi, media advisor at MCIT, said that the ministry had not received any letter from the IEC regarding blocking fake Facebook pages associated to presidential candidates.

“We have not received any request from the commission, we will take action according to the law once we receive such requests,” he said.

Shekib Kamjo, the MCIT spokesman, in an interview with Pajhwok also said they would take action if candidates complained about such issues to them.

To a question why the ministry did not take action against fake Facebook pages despite Pajhwok published a report about them, Nawabi said, “We cannot comment about Pajhwok report but the complaints registration and follow up process is different and the person that complains should be present.”  He said no one has so far reached the ministry with such complaints.

Zia Bomia, deputy head of media complaints and violations commission in the Ministry of Information and Culture, also said no one had complained about media violations to them and the ministry could not take arbitrary actions without someone’s complaining.

“Based on the law, the person who complaints and is affected, we follow his/her case, if the violation is not so serious then we warn the person behind but if it is serious, then we introduce the person to judiciary organs,” he concluded.

Ahmad Shah Erfanyar

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